Friday, August 31, 2007

Missional liberalism

This is the problem, I think, with liberal religion. What it seeks to do is to maintain a space between conservative religion on the one hand and secularism on the other. But in fact it spends too much time concerning itself with conservativism and not enough time dealing with secularism.

I worry that Unitarnianism in the West had a parasitic relationship with conservative religion. Where conservative religion is strong, as in the United States, Unitarianism does well scooping up a certain percentage who rebel against conservative religion, because it is refreshingly different. But where secularism is strong, as in the United Kingdom, it fails utterly as a powerful religious force. Unitarianism too often seeks to answer the question - why belong to this faith community as opposed to another faith commmunity? But too little seeks to answer the question - why belong to any faith community at all?

We have no idea how faith development works as a transition from unchurched to liberal church. The path of unchurched to conservative church is well documented. The path from conservative church to liberal church is well documented. But how does one go from unchurched to liberal church? It seems that few people do that. Are we prepared to accept the fact that we need conservative religion to define ourselves and to grow?

What is required is a strong missional liberalism that provides something more solid than secularism, as opposed to something less solid than conservativism. This will require a change in our culture and our theology if we are to have any hope of reaching the unchurched.


Anonymous Mike Killingworth said...

Well, there's an assumption in there that liberal religion is "churched" - maybe you'd care to write a piece saying what the concept means to you?

I have long suspected that if we are to reach the "unchurched" we will do well to recall Jung's opinion that people turn to the spiritual in mid-life.

Of more importance, I suspect, is the fact that within congregations growth is seen as being at least as painful is it is a cause for celebration - not least by their lay leadership. The congregation that wants pain-free growth is the congregation that doesn't want to grow.

As you will find out when you are called to your first pulpit!

5:49 pm  

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